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One of the greatest writers of all times, Aristotle Onassis once said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” Onassis’s idea of victory seem to aptly describe the sentiments of 17-year-old Seema Joseph’s mantra of “Not seeing self as a failure…people are not born failures…there is always an open door of opportunities.”
Joseph, a student of Manzanilla Secondary School, who resides in Sangre Chiquito, believes that motivation does not originate from external factors but is inherent in individuals who want to soar above life’s challenges. Joseph, despite popular belief, has for a long time existed in a less than perfect family situation.
She lives with her grandmother who receives public assistance, her mother, a housewife, and her two teenage brothers. Joseph not only views her mom as a source of strength and one full of self-abnegation, but as the quintessential role model. Actually, Joseph described her mom as the “glue” that binds her family together.
It is not surprising that Joseph spoke very little about her father. She claimed that her father, an abusive husband who turned to drugs when she was only three, is no longer part of her life. She claimed that although she sees him from time to time roaming the streets, their father-daughter relationship is virtually nonexistent and abrogates any claims of validating their relationship.
Though she empathises with him, she misses his paternal love and support.
Having attended Sangre Chiquito Presbyterian and then Manzanilla Secondary School, Joseph said studying was a major part of her plan to succeed. Although many people have frowned upon her choice of secondary school, this has not deterred Joseph. She is of the firm belief that the school is never the problem, but the problem lies in the students’ level of discipline, commitment and output.
A disciplined and committed student, Joseph aced the Caribbean Secondary School Certificate (CSEC) examination and obtained eight passes, with six of them being distinctions in chemistry, biology, accounts, mathematics, principles of business and literature. Joseph got a one in english A and a two in geography.
Overjoyed with her success, Joseph said there was no magic solution and credited her ability to remain focused. She continuously examines her challenges and never settles for less. Joseph believes that people in worse situations than hers could achieve with determination.
Graduation 2014 was a further testimony of her success. At this event, Joseph was valedictorian and went on to receive nine awards for biology, literature, english A, geography, accounts and business, and also the Cultural Award for her participation in activities at the school, the Sital Most Outstanding Award and the prestigious Principal’s Award.
Currently, Joseph is a Lower Six student at Manzanilla Secondary where she is doing Business Studies, Management of Business, Communication Studies, Accounts and Entrepreneurship. She chose these subjects because of her desire to become a businesswoman. Joseph, who is aware that her family is not able to financially support her future ambitions, aims to either work as an ‘On the Job Trainee’ (OJT), accumulate sufficient savings to be admitted into the University of the West Indies, or win a scholarship where she can have free access to full-time studies.
HOBBIES AND INTERESTS
Singing, dancing, reading and hiking are just some of Joseph’s hobbies. Although she enjoys these activities, she said that financial constraints often limits her movements, explorations and experiences. Having never travelled outside of T&T, Joseph said her next favourite pastime was spending quality time with family on the beach.
Joseph, who is a Hindu, said that prayer has always brought balance in her life. Her great faith in the Almighty God is testament to her success because to her, He always comes through for her in her weakest/darkest moments when she feels as though her odds are outweighing her possibilities.
YOUTH AND THE SOCIETY
When questioned about her perspective on the youth in the society, Joseph said too many young men were failing miserably to maintain a level head and have been falling through the cracks. She was vociferous in her belief that it is natural for young men to explore. However, she was not supportive of their explorations on the dark side with guns, drugs, smoking and even using expletives.
“Dabbling in illegal substances can have an adverse effect on their behaviour, which in essence would most definitely sully their character,” she said. She advised young men. “Follow passion...whether passion in education, sports, music, gardening, boating” to gain dignity, independence and self-actualisation. Being the only girl among her siblings, she said, has given her a keen insight into the mindset of the young men today.
But in Joseph, her siblings can find inspiration, a role model. She believes that like the advice her mother has always given her, young men should strive for independence, remain focused on the tasks at hand and never deviate from set goals and objectives. She admitted to not being in a relationship at present, and plans to postpone such activities until she accomplishes the goals that she has set for herself.
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